Entire Dept. History History of the Maltese Cross Top Ten Attendance All Time Past Chiefs Past Fire Marshals Honorary Firefighters Mascots

Major Historic Events

The Karnes City Volunteer Fire Department was organized on February 6, 1923. L.H. Reuser was appointed Fire Chief and served for 24 years. By February 13, 1923, the department now had 33 members and $1,500 in donations to purchase equipment and a fire station.

The first piece of equipment purchased was a two-wheeled hose cart that could be pulled by firefighters. Soon after, a new Model T Ford truck was purchased by the department at a cost of $360. On March 6, 1923, a lot was purchased for $150 to build a fire station on. The station was built on Buchel Street, near the present site of the Sherrill Laundromat at a cost of $400.

On May 26, 1923, at 1:10 AM the firefighters of the newly formed department got their first test as they pulled out their hose cart and Model T truck and formed a bucket brigade to fight a fire that broke out at Niehaus Industries located South of the railroad tracks.

Their second call came on January 4, 1924 at 8:42 PM at the Dreamland Theater which was the first picture show house in Karnes City, located where the present City Hall now stands. The fire started when the projectionists had some difficulty with the film and the sparks from the carbon tipped arc lamps of the projector ignited the celluloid film of the twelve-reel movie "The Birth of a Nation". The owner of the theater was both pleased and grateful to the fire department for saving his theater.

In 1930, a Simms pumper on a 1928 Reo truck chassis was purchased and it remained in service until the early 1970's. This truck is still kept in the fire station and is used for parades and to practice pumper races.

John Kolodziej was the first Fire Marshal appointed in 1932 and served for 5 years until 1937. He was followed by Ed Weigang, who served for 32 years until his retirement in February 1969.

The department averaged 11 alarms per year between 1944 and 1949, 14.6 alarms per year between 1950 and 1959, and 25.6 alarms per year between 1960 and 1969.

1971 was a very busy year for grass fires. The year ended with the department answering a record 78 alarms, beating the previous record of 38 alarms in 1969. The department averaged 43.3 alarms per year between 1970 and 1979.

In October 1982, the department sponsored the first annual Fire Prevention Week activities with the Karnes City Elementary School.

In September 1983, the department moved into its current fire station at 310 E. Calvert.

In 1987, the department got into the rescue business when they began to operate the "Jaws of Life" rescue tools for Karnes County using a retired 1974 ambulance on loan from the county, to carry the rescue tools to scene of incidents.

The department averaged 44.3 alarms per year between 1980 and 1989.

1999 brought a record 121 alarms to beat the previous record of 78 alarms in 1971. The department averaged 68.3 alarms per year between 1990 and 1999.

In March 2000, Jimmy "BJ" Loya Jr. was voted in as our first student member under the age of eighteen.

On August 29, 2000, the department was incorporated as a non-profit 501c3 organization.

2005 turned out to be a very busy year for grass fires, ending the year with a record 122 alarms to beat the previous record of 121 from 1999. The department averaged 97 alarms per year between 2000 and 2009.

2012 was another record year with a total of 148 alarms breaking the previous record from 2006 of 143. The department averaged 117 alarms per year between 2010 and 2015. Quite an increase from the 1970's when we averaged 43 calls per year.

In September 2014, the department moved into the new addition to the fire station that was added at a cost of $39,600. New bunker gear racks were also installed in the station addition at a cost of $9700.

In February 2017, the department went digital, placing an all new digital radio system in service in Karnes County for all of the Fire and EMS services at a cost of $120,000.